Updated: Mar 18, 2022
Written by Xavierlyn Tan and Yong Yong Qing
When we think of creativity, many of us may tend to think specifically about art or music - traditionally creative activities like painting, playing musical instruments or writing books. For those of us who may not be artistically or musically inclined, it could be quite daunting to think of how to practise creativity in our lives. However, creativity is not limited to the arts! There are many ways that we can practise creativity in our day to day activities.
Why should we even bother with engaging in creative activities?
1. Engaging in creative activities can improve mental health
Engaging in creative activities can help one relieve stress and anxiety. Directing negative emotions into creativity can help to decrease feelings of sadness, stress and anxiety. A study by Conner and colleagues, published in 2016, found that spending time on creativity can increase overall positive emotions experienced by an individual.
Another study in 2017 study found that engaging in simple free doodling, drawing and colouring activated the reward pathways in the brain. These reward pathways are the same pathways activated by addictive behaviours.
2. Creative activities can put us in a state of flow
In Positive Psychology, flow refers to the state of having optimal attention on the task one is focused on. It is also known as being in the zone. During flow, an individual is so immersed in their task, they lose the sense of time and feel relaxed.
When we engage in creative activities, we may experience mindfulness where we have full focus on the activity. Our sense of time becomes distorted and before we know it, minutes and hours have flown by and we are seated before the final product we have been working on.
Why is flow important? Well, research has found that people who experience flow reported higher levels of happiness and productivity - and that could be you too!
If you’re keen to find out more about flow, you can read Flow by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
3. Being creative can boost brain function
Having an outlet to express creativity can even boost cognitive health. Simply looking at a visual artwork can increase blood flow to the brain by as much as 10%, while creating art strengthens connectivity within the brain. This is akin to exercising your brain which promotes brain longevity!
These benefits are not limited to younger adults. In a 2014 study, engaging in creative arts resulted in greater connectivity within the brains of retired individuals, and this was linked to increased resistance to stress.
If you are a senior who is keen in engaging in the creative arts, AIC’s creative art kit can be the first place to start your artistic journey!
How do I reap the benefits of creativity?
In order to reap benefits from creativity, it is important to set aside time for these activities and incorporate it into your daily life.
1. Creativity at home
Think about the type of creative activity you are keen to pursue. It could be doodling, writing, painting, making music or even finding new ways to do things! You can try as many activities as you want if you are unsure which to commit to! The main goal is to explore your creative side, not limit yourself to certain activities.
Set aside a small, dedicated space in your house to do these activities. If this isn’t possible, consider seeking alternative conducive places such as a quiet cafe or even the beach. Remember to schedule time for these activities based on your availability.
Another simple way to exercise creativity at home is to give different parts of your home a makeover. This could be as simple as toying with new ways to organise your items, shuffling your furniture to give your space a new look, or setting aside some time to do some decluttering to make your space look neater. You can even get your creative brain working and consider various ways to recycle and donate your declutter items.
If you are feeling adventurous, you could even take on DIY projects! Making over your living space also helps with environmental wellness - making your surroundings look pleasant may in turn uplift your mood as well.
2. Creativity amongst social circles
While traveling with friends is less common now due to the pandemic, you can instead see it as an opportunity to explore new and creative activities locally. Instead of going out just for meals or hanging out at one another’s houses, why not take the time to plan unique outings together to exercise your creativity? There are many classes and workshops that friends can take together - pottery classes, art jamming and even resin work!
If you are not so keen on spending money to be creative, there are always many ways you can still be creative at low or no cost. It can be a fun outing idea to check out the many museums and art galleries in Singapore for free! Finding various ways to interpret the exhibits you see and discussing them with your friends can help you to exercise your creativity.
You could also organise photo walks - either around the many quaint neighbourhoods such as Tiong Bahru and Joo Chiat, or instagrammable locations such as Marina Bay or Haji Lane. Consider the angles of the photographs and the emotions you want to evoke through your photographs. Thinking about this can already get your creative juices flowing!
3. Creativity at work
Designing work environment can make employees feel more productive, healthy and satisfied! Consider decorating your desk or work environment with colours and even lighting (if possible). If your workplace does not allow overt decorations, you can see it as a challenge to decorate your space as minimalistic as possible.
Apart from decorating your workspace, you can also incorporate creativity in work through problem-solving or finding ways to improve existing structures or workflow. Many companies are open to innovative ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness of current workflow. However, managers and leaders may not always have the on-the-ground experience to identify gaps to improve the system. If you are an employee, you have that unique advantage to look out for gaps and potential ways to improve the workflow.
A word of caution
Often, expectations can come in the way of our creativity. For example, what you’ve envisioned yourself to paint may turn out differently from what you have expected. Or you wanted to write an article in a certain way but it did not turn out the way you expected. That is perfectly okay! When we are critical on ourselves, pursuing creativity becomes a stressful activity rather than relaxing one. It is important to be aligned with your authentic self and let go of your preconceived notions of what should be.
We hope that you’ve gained new insights on how to be more creative in your daily life! If you like this post, do give it a like and thank you for your support!